Can intermittent fasting cause acne?

can intermittent fasting cause acne

Can intermittent fasting cause acne?
You can significantly improve skin hydration and texture with intermittent fasting, especially the fasting-mimicking diet, potentially making it a useful ally against acne. It’s important to personalise your fasting approach to match your skin’s needs, considering your overall health and dietary patterns.


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Does Intermittent Fasting Affect Your Skin?

Can changing what’s on our dinner plates change what’s happening on our faces? 

Yes, it can!

1. Initial Pimples from Detoxification

The process of fasting supports the body’s natural detoxification pathways, which can have a positive impact on the health of your skin

During periods of fasting, the body can focus on repairing and rejuvenating skin cells, potentially leading to healthy skin. This aspect of intermittent fasting is particularly beneficial for those struggling with oily skin and other skin issues, as it helps to reset the skin’s health and improve its overall appearance.

can intermittent fasting cause acne - light food and skincare

However, some individuals might experience an initial increase in acne, which can be attributed to a process similar to purging

This phenomenon occurs as the body adjusts to the new eating pattern and begins to detoxify, potentially releasing toxins through the skin. Changes in hormone levels, especially insulin and cortisol, due to altered eating schedules can also temporarily disrupt skin balance, leading to breakouts. 

Fortunately, is typically a short-term reaction, and many people notice improvements in their skin health, including reduced acne, as their body adapts to intermittent fasting. It’s important to monitor these changes and consult with a healthcare professional if skin issues persist or worsen.

The story then gets better from here…

2. Increased Hydration

Imagine eating in a way that tricks your body into thinking it’s fasting—sounds like a diet hack out of a sci-fi novel, doesn’t it? But the fasting-mimicking diet (FMD) is real, and it’s showing some pretty cool results for our skin.

Let’s break it down to the basics. A group of 45 vibrant women, all riding the age wave from 35 to 60, decided to give this FMD a whirl. For three months, they followed a five-day FMD protocol once a month. 

Hydrated skin

So, what happened? By day 11, their skin was holding onto water like a happy cactus in the desert, showing a significant increase in hydration

Fast forward to day 71, and their skin was still winning the hydration game. But here’s the kicker: while their skin was getting all quenched and comfy, the control group (aka the non-fasting mimicking diet folks) were struggling with their skin texture, which was getting bumpy.

Now, you might be thinking, “That’s great, but what does this have to do with acne?” Well, imagine your skin as a party. When it’s well-hydrated, it’s like having the right amount of guests, music, and snacks—everything’s in harmony, and there are no unwelcome party crashers (read: acne). But when your skin’s dry or irritated, it’s like that party’s gone out of control, and acne shows up uninvited.

Beyond just a splash of hydration and smoother skin, these ladies also reported feeling a boost in their mood. They were happier and more confident. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone—or in this case, eating your way to both a radiant complexion and a brighter mood.

The link between intermittent fasting and skin health goes further, with potential impacts ranging from glowing skin to the challenge of acne breakouts. 

3. More Balanced Hormones

Hormones play a pivotal role in our skin’s health, particularly when it comes to conditions like acne. Intermittent fasting has a direct impact on hormonal changes, notably insulin levels. By improving insulin sensitivity and reducing insulin resistance, fasting can help mitigate insulin spikes and stabilise blood sugar levels. This is crucial because high insulin levels can trigger the sebaceous glands to produce more oil, leading to skin breakouts. 

Moreover, intermittent fasting may influence cortisol levels, another hormone that, when imbalanced, can exacerbate acne breakouts. Balancing these hormones through controlled eating patterns could potentially lead to clearer, healthier skin. However, it’s important to note that while fasting offers benefits, such as improved insulin sensitivity, it’s essential to approach it with caution, especially for those with existing hormonal imbalances.

5. Reduced Inflammation

A key aspect of intermittent fasting’s effect on skin health is its potential to lower the inflammatory response in the body. Chronic inflammation is a known culprit behind many skin problems, including acne breakouts and inflammatory skin conditions. By adopting intermittent fasting, you may help reduce systemic inflammation, leading to fewer skin breakouts and promoting the development of acne less frequently. 


Does Prolonged Fasting Cause Acne?

The question of whether prolonged fasting leads to acne is complex. While short-term intermittent fasting can reduce inflammation and improve hormonal imbalances, very long fasting periods might have a different impact. Extended fasting could stress the body, potentially leading to an increase in cortisol levels—a stress hormone that can aggravate acne breakouts

It’s essential to find a balance that doesn’t overly strain the immune system or disrupt the digestive system, both of which play roles in skin health. The key is to listen to your body and adjust your fasting schedule to support not just weight loss and insulin sensitivity but also to maintain a clear and healthy complexion. Personal experiences vary, so it’s important to approach prolonged fasting cautiously and consider its effects on your skin’s health.

Can Skipping Meals Cause Acne?

Skipping meals irregularly can lead to acne in some individuals. 

This practice can disrupt your circadian rhythm and lead to hormonal imbalances, particularly concerning insulin levels and cortisol levels. These hormonal fluctuations can trigger the sebaceous glands to produce more oil, leading to oily skin and acne breakouts. 

Empty dinner plate

Moreover, irregular eating patterns can affect the digestive system, which is closely linked to skin health. A healthy digestive system supports good gut health, which is crucial for maintaining clear skin. 

Therefore, while intermittent fasting with a consistent schedule can have positive effects, erratic meal skipping can have the opposite effect, exacerbating skin problems and contributing to the development of acne. 

It’s crucial to maintain a balanced dietary pattern, even when fasting, to support both the health of your skin and your overall wellbeing.

Should I Fast if I Have Acne?

Deciding to fast when you have acne requires careful consideration of your overall health and skin’s health. While intermittent fasting can improve insulin sensitivity, lower inflammatory response, and reduce acne breakouts for some, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. 

Hormonal imbalances and stress from adapting to a new eating pattern can initially exacerbate skin issues. It’s essential to monitor your skin health closely and consider how changes in your diet and calorie intake affect your acne. 

Consulting with a healthcare provider can offer insights into whether fasting might help or hinder your skin problems, especially in the context of insulin resistance and hormonal changes. For those with acne, a gradual approach to fasting, coupled with a healthy diet rich in fatty acids and low in high-glycemic foods, can be beneficial. Remember, the goal is to support your body weight, overall health, and skin health without triggering additional skin breakouts.

How Long Does It Take for Fasting to Clear Skin?

The time it takes for intermittent fasting to impact skin health and potentially clear acne varies from person to person. Factors such as insulin levels, hormonal balances, and individual dietary patterns play significant roles in how quickly you might see improvements. 

Calendar of fasting days

Generally, changes in skin health can be observed over several weeks to months of consistent fasting. It’s important to give your body time to adjust to the new eating pattern and for the inflammatory response to decrease. 

Healthy skin emerges not just from dietary changes but from a holistic approach that includes managing stress, ensuring better sleep, and maintaining a balanced diet. For those exploring fasting to improve skin issues, patience and attentiveness to the body’s signals are key.

Tips for Healthy Skin on an Intermittent Fasting Plan

To maximise the benefits of intermittent fasting for your acne, it’s crucial to adopt a comprehensive approach that extends beyond fasting periods. 

A healthy diet packed with fatty acids, antioxidants, and low in high-glycemic foods can significantly enhance the health of your skin. 

Incorporating different foods into your eating pattern that support gut health—such as fibrous vegetables, fruits, and fermented foods—is also beneficial. 

Staying hydrated is essential, as water plays a critical role in maintaining skin hydration and aiding in detoxification. During your eating windows, focus on a balanced diet that includes a variety of plant-based foods to ensure you’re getting the necessary nutrients for healthy skin. 

Additionally, consider skin fasting by simplifying your skincare products routine to let your skin breathe and balance its natural oils, particularly helpful for those with oily skin.

Furthermore, it’s important to listen to your body and adjust your fasting schedule as needed. Not everyone responds the same way to intermittent fasting, and what works for one person may not work for another, especially when it comes to skin issues. 

Regular exercise, better sleep habits, and stress management are also key components of a lifestyle that supports skin health and can help reduce acne breakouts.

Personalising Your Fasting Plan

It’s essential to personalise your fasting plan based on your overall health, dietary needs, and how your skin reacts to changes in your eating pattern and calorie intake

Monitoring your skin’s health during the fasting journey allows for adjustments to be made, ensuring that your dietary pattern supports not just weight management but also contributes to clear, healthy skin.

Consulting with healthcare professionals can provide valuable guidance in tailoring your fasting regimen to suit your health and skin needs. They can offer advice on managing hormonal imbalances and insulin sensitivity through fasting, as well as recommend dietary patterns and foods that support skin health. 

Additionally, understanding the role of gut health in skin issues and incorporating probiotic-rich foods can further enhance the benefits of your fasting plan.

What about skin fasting?

The concept of skin fasting—minimising the use of skincare products during fasting periods—also promotes the idea that giving your skin a break can lead to improved oily skin conditions and alleviate other skin issues. It’s a holistic approach that looks beyond the surface to the underlying health of your skin.

Understanding Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting isn’t just a diet trend; it’s a lifestyle choice that’s helping many achieve their health and beauty goals. 

This eating pattern varies, but common methods like the 16/8 or 5:2 plan have shown promising results in weight loss and enhancing overall health. 

Beyond just shedding pounds, intermittent fasting can lead to better sleep, improve insulin sensitivity, and promote a healthy diet. It’s these shifts in eating patterns and calorie intake that can also have a profound effect on our body weight and skin health.

Can Intermittent Fasting Cause Acne?

Wrapping up our discussion, it’s clear that the question of whether intermittent fasting impacts skin conditions, such as acne, requires a thoughtful consideration of individual health and lifestyle factors. This approach to eating, with its potential to influence weight, hormone levels, and inflammation, offers a pathway to not only improved overall health but possibly to better skin health as well. However, the effectiveness and outcomes of fasting can vary greatly from person to person. By listening to our bodies and adjusting our routines accordingly, we can better understand how such dietary patterns affect us personally. Ultimately, integrating intermittent fasting into our lives demands a balance—mindfully adopting practices that support our well-being while being attentive to how our skin responds to these changes.

FAQ: Can Intermittent Fasting Cause Acne?

Does fasting make you look older or younger?

Fasting, especially intermittent fasting, can actually make you look younger over time. By reducing inflammation, enhancing hydration, and improving overall skin health, fasting can lead to a more youthful appearance. The process helps in cellular repair and detoxification, potentially slowing down aging signs like wrinkles and sagging skin.

Does intermittent fasting slim your face?

Yes, intermittent fasting can slim your face. By promoting weight loss and reducing body fat, intermittent fasting can lead to a more defined facial structure and reduced puffiness. However, the extent of facial slimming varies from person to person, depending on overall body fat percentage and weight loss during fasting.

Does fasting really tighten skin?

Fasting can contribute to skin tightening indirectly. By improving overall health, reducing inflammation, and aiding in weight loss, fasting can enhance skin elasticity. However, significant skin tightening, especially after substantial weight loss, might require additional treatments or interventions. Proper hydration and nutrition during fasting periods are crucial for maintaining skin elasticity.


Bragazzi NL, Sellami M, Salem I, et al. Fasting and Its Impact on Skin Anatomy, Physiology, and Physiopathology: A Comprehensive Review of the Literature. Nutrients. 2019;11(2):249. Published 2019 Jan 23. doi:10.3390/nu11020249

Maloh J, Wei M, Hsu WC, Caputo S, Afzal N, Sivamani RK. The Effects of a Fasting Mimicking Diet on Skin Hydration, Skin Texture, and Skin Assessment: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Clin Med. 2023;12(5):1710. Published 2023 Feb 21. doi:10.3390/jcm12051710

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